By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — Though the Red Sox lost Wednesday night’s game against the Detroit Tigers in 10 innings, closer Matt Barnes turned in another perfect frame out of the Boston bullpen. Those have become the norm for the righty in his spectacular start to the 2021 season.

For Barnes, Wednesday night was his 10th perfect appearance of at least one inning this season. He struck out all three batters that he faced for the third time this season, needing just 15 pitches to fan Victor Reyes, Grayson Grainer and Robbie Grossman. Barnes retired Grossman — Detroit’s leadoff hitter — on three straight knuckle curves, a pitch that has been making Major League hitters look like a bunch of chumps throughout the season.

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Overall, Barnes has struck out 29 of of the 59 batters that he’s faced, good for a 49.2 percent clip.

More than just strikeouts, Barnes isn’t allowing anyone to cross home plate, allowing zero runs in his last 5.2 innings over six outings. Heck, he isn’t really letting anyone get to first base, allowing just one hit in that span. (Unfortunately that hit was a single to Brock Holt, and the Texas Rangers scored a pair of runs on an error by Alex Verdugo as Barnes tried to clean up a mess left by Adam Ottavino.)

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Barnes is a perfect 7-for-7 in save opportunities this season, allowing zero runs while holding opponents to a .043 average. He’s allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out 12 in his save situations.

Alex Cora took his time to name Barnes the team’s closer ahead of the season, but really, there was no doubt it would be the righty coming out of the pen to slam the door for Boston. Since taking over as closer in late August last season, Barnes leads the AL with 16 saves. That’s good for the second-most in all of baseball, with former Sox reliever Mark Melancon leading the way with 18.

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Questions still remain about the rest of the Boston bullpen, though it has been a surprisingly strong group over the first 31 games. But life must be a lot easier on anyone coming out of the pen when they know that whatever bridge they build to Barnes in the ninth inning will not go to waste.

CBSBoston.com Staff